Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Jennifer Chase, Crime Thrillers

My name is Jennifer Chase and I write crime thrillers. My latest release is Silent Little Angels, which is book number seven in the Detective Katie Scott Thriller Series. The series revolves around a cold case detective, ex-Army K9 explosive handler, who is tracking down killers in a rural California Mountain town.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:

I have always LOVED books for as long as I can remember. I wrote stories, articles, and a dozen screenplays, but I had my ambition on writing novels. I worked in the corporate world for a while, but my thoughts weren’t far from a crime fiction storyline. One day, after I had written by twelfth screenplay, I began to outline another storyline and series, but this time I wrote my first novel Compulsion. From that time, I never looked back.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:

My first book took the longest because I did an extensive outline process. I was also thinking that down the road, this would be a series. There was quite a bit of information and background that wasn’t part of the first book. From outline to the first draft, it took me about six months to write my first novel.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:     

I began as an indie author and worked hard to get my series out there. It’s not that I never wanted to be traditionally published, but I was working hard and seeing results. At that time, many of the available publishing houses didn’t take unsolicited manuscripts, and the ones that did, it took months to hear back. So I forged on until I was contacted by a publisher who asked me to pitch a crime series. I was excited and optimistic because I had a series that I wanted to write—the Detective Katie Scott Thriller Series. Publishing is much more open and friendly to authors wanting to submit their books today. I would say it has definitely changed in the last five years, which is fantastic. So now, I publish both indie and traditional.

What is your publishing process?

Author:  

I outline all of my stories. It’s a loose overview, like a roadmap, where I can see the crimes and clues clearly making it clear where each suspense-building aspect is needed. It makes my writing that much easier and my first draft isn’t a complete wreck.

Marketing  

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:

Planning is key. A new release requires a pre-order, which has been very successful for my series. I do at least one virtual blog tour, create tweets and posts for social media, email my subscribers, make fun one minute book trailers, and use my blog as the jumping off point.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     

There are several ways I get reviews besides from readers who buy the book. NetGalley is a great way to get more book reviews—generally the reviewers will also post to GoodReads and Amazon as well. I also contact book reviewers I’ve had in the past to see if they would like to review my latest book. That’s a wonderful way to get reviews before you book is published.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:

I think that varies. There’s not just one definition for success. For some, having published books and selling copies is successful. For others, selling a million books is successful. I feel that if you’re writing books, with good reviews, and readers are buying them—that’s successful.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:    

I write novels mainly, but I’ve written short stories, novellas, and screenplays. I love writing anything in the crime, thriller, and suspense genres. I’ve been influenced by the 80s action films so my novels definitely have some action in them.

How many works have you published?

Author:

I have published sixteen novels, two short stories, and one non-fiction workbook.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:     

My latest book, Silent Little Angels, a Detective Katie Scott thriller, is a crime fiction series about a cold case detective and her K9 set in a rural California mountain area. The latest installment is the seventh book, but all my books can be easily read as a stand-alone.

Here is the synopsis for Silent Little Angels:

The water ripples as the girl’s body escapes the reeds and floats silently upwards. Her beautiful face—blue eyes frozen open, skin as white as snow—breaks the surface. But it’s too late, this innocent soul has taken her final breath…

When camp counselor Carolyn Sable’s body is found floating in a lake beside Eagle Ridge Summer Camp, Detective Katie Scott must dig deep to stay focused. As a child, Katie spent many happy weeks at that camp toasting marshmallows on the fire with her best friend Jenny… until the day Jenny disappeared. The loss will always haunt Katie, but Carolyn’s inconsolable family need answers.

Searching the area, the devastating discovery of two more bodies sends the case into a tailspin. Suddenly on the hunt for a serial killer, Katie’s blood turns to ice when she finds newspaper clippings about her own past cases planted near one of the bodies. Was this twisted killer banking on Katie taking the lead? And why?

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:     

Time. I actually struggle with procrastination, so it’s been my nemesis for a while. I’ve been learning to see only what I have to do tomorrow and what I need to accomplish today.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:     

The ideas and storylines that I write down help to keep me motivated. I feel that I would never run out of ideas.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:

I don’t feel, in my opinion, that there’s a real thing called writer’s block. If you think you’re struggling from it, then you don’t have a complete story. Step back from your project. Begin another. Or just take more time organizing your story that you’re having problems with.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:     

When I’m writing, I listen to piano classical. When I’m editing, it’s all quiet on deck.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or awarm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:

I can write anywhere, but mostly I write in a small office in my house surrounded by things I love–books. There’s a big window where I can see outside at the trees and grass. It’s really relaxing. I create most of my ideas at my desk and I don’t usually write on a laptop, but a desktop computer. It sounds old school, but it’s comfortable and it makes me productive.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:     

I have two German shepherds and they take turns being my writing buddy.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:

Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be writing. Write what inspires and excites you.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Arabella Sheraton, Regency Romance

Arabella Sheraton is the author of the regency romance book The Reluctant Bridegroom.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      A few years ago, my mom, who was an invalid, complained that the Regency romance books by a Big-Name Publisher were ‘all the same.’ She said, “I’m sure you could write a good Regency for me. Will you?” I thought to myself how hard could it be, and already being a Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer fan, I dived in.     

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      My first few books were written for a traditional publisher who, sadly, closed down when the owner became ill. I turned to indie publishing, found a good distributor, and have never looked back.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      Regency is a niche market with very dedicated fans. That makes it easy for a Regency author to tap into the market.

Marketing    

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I have a Facebook site, a website, and a Twitter profile. I post regularly to Facebook, but I am an avid Twitter user, and this has worked out the best for me. I tweet other people’s books/news and they return the favour.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      Persistence. The ability to just keep going even when it seems as if you are wading through mud and everyone else is enjoying unparalleled success but not you.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic? 

Author:      I write authentic Regency romances. This may seem an odd statement, but romance in this sub-genre of historical fiction has very clear guidelines. Regency sticks to certain rules, has die-hard fans that know their bonnets and boudoirs, and leans towards an authentic style for the genre.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      Regency could be called formulaic but in fact is anything but. Given the ‘restrictions’ imposed by the genre (clean romance, era-appropriate language etc) and the fact that there are no special FX and whizz-bang action car chases, the writer has to work on plots that are intriguing and concern people of the era, their relationships and the drama that arises from conflicts within these relationships and social issues. I aim for witty dialogue, intriguing plots, realistic interactions, and the social mores and manners of the time. There is plenty of material for themes and dramatic plots.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      I did not think of becoming an author at all. I just wrote the books to entertain my mother. I happened upon a publisher who posted an advert in an online newsletter, asking for Regency manuscripts. They loved my books and asked if I had any more lined up. As it happened, I had. After my mom passed away, I have continued to write in her memory. She so loved Regency romance, like many readers out there.    

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      I absolutely love sinking into a Regency romance and being gently taken back to an era when things were much simpler. A good romance can absorb you for a few relaxing hours. I want my readers to experience the same kind of pleasure. The feeling when you put down a book, sigh, and think, “Oh, that was just wonderful.”

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:     Oddly enough, I always start with a catchy title. I have tried to do it other ways, but the title seems to strike the right note and from there the story unfolds very easily. I handwrite my chapter outlines, make a list of potential characters, and then start typing the story. So it’s a mix of pantsing and plotting, but there is definite plotting. I never struggle for stories. There are always a few ideas floating around in my head.

Struggles

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I am driven and self-advocating. You have to tell people your books are out there, and you have to give them a taste of the books as well. The Amazon Look Inside is not enough. Wattpad is a great way to give potential readers/fans a peek into your books. I have put the first 3 chapters of all my books on Wattpad to give any reader a nice chunk of my stories. The feedback is also useful. Wattpad allows you to share this with other platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Here are the first 3 chapters of The Reluctant Bridegroom on Wattpad https://www.wattpad.com/story/5877656-the-reluctant-bridegroom-chapters-1-3 I also use two excellent marketing companies to keep promoting me when I am not able to post on Twitter. Circle of Books comes highly recommended and The Main Channel Network.   

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t believe there is such a thing. When I grind to a halt in my story, I put that part aside and continue writing a few scenes ahead. I leave it up to my characters to sort out the roadblock when I get back to the scene. It works. You cannot force creativity.

Fun Stuff   

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I live in a small island country in the Mediterranean. My home is in the countryside, in beautiful surroundings, and the only noise is the sound of birds singing… I have a study set up for my writing and here is where all the magic happens!

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      April Lady by Georgette Heyer for the umpteenth time.   

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique? 

Author:      Every author is unique in their own way. Where things fall apart is when they read something another person has written or received accolades for and they then doubt themselves and copy the other writer. I write the way I write, and people enjoy my books. They may enjoy someone else’s more, but that’s their privilege. 

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:    Two dogs (Pumpkin and Stanley) and a cat (Bertie Wooster) and his girlfriend (Princess Jasmine) who comes to visit and eat my cat’s food.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:      I have three, actually. These I gleaned from the wonderful marketing guru Penny Sansevieri. 1. Never give up. 2. Make sure your books reach the highest standards of publishing. 3. Every day, in some way, tell someone about your books because word of mouth is free and it’s the best form of advertising.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: E J Fisch, Science Fiction

Hi! I’m EJ Fisch—author, artist, gamer, and overall nerd. First and foremost, I write science fiction, but all of my sci-fi has a thriller twist. After all, they say you should write what you like to read, and those are my two favorite genres.

I most recently published Embers (Feb. 22, 2022), the fifth installment in my character-driven space opera/spy thriller series. It felt SO good to finally get to share five books’ worth of character development with readers and bring the series to a satisfying close…for now, at least.    

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author: I’ve enjoyed telling stories for just about as long as I can remember, and I dabbled in writing as long ago as elementary school. I started writing more seriously in junior high; a couple of friends and I had a goofy Star Wars roleplaying game going via AOL instant messenger, and I’d take the transcripts from our chats and type them up as actual prose. Star Wars had already sparked my love of sci-fi many years earlier, so it was at that point that I started wanting to develop deeper, more complex stories in this genre where there were virtually limitless possibilities and my imagination could run wild. Ever since then, I constantly have new characters and ideas brewing in the back of my mind, so writing (and subsequently publishing and sharing those ideas with others) is a perfect outlet.    

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author: I want to say my first book took me about 10 months to write. Back then, I was writing totally for my own enjoyment and had no plans to ever publish, so I didn’t keep track of time very well. I actually wrote the majority of it during my senior year of high school and into early college. Then it sat and gathered dust until the spring of 2014, at which point I’d already completed the second book in the series and was well into plotting the third. It finally struck me that I’d put all of this work into these stories only to hide them from the world. That was when I decided to pursue publishing; I took a few months to go back and revise and spruce up the first book (it needed some MAJOR work), and then dove in.    

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author: I am 100% indie. Self-published, to be exact, and not afraid to admit it. I saw a post on Twitter the other day asking self-pubbed authors whether they went that route solely so they could just get their work out there. Not gonna lie—that’s definitely part of it, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I chose to self-publish so I could maintain complete control of my work. Not only am I guaranteed to be able to share my stories with other people (even if readership is low), but I can stick to my own schedule. I can design my covers how I want. I can format both my ebooks and physical copies how I want. I can market how I want. I can tell the story I want to tell, and I can keep producing regardless of how a given book performs. Yeah, it takes a lot of extra work, but I can’t imagine leaving those things in someone else’s hands. I’m a strong advocate for eliminating the stigma surrounding self-publishing. There are a ton of incredibly talented writers out there who have chosen to go this route for many of the same reasons I have.   

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author: I started out publishing exclusively on Amazon and made use of their Kindle Unlimited program. Then about 3 years ago, I made the switch to wide distribution. Now, my work is available at all the major retailers—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play—as well as a number of smaller international retailers. KU/Amazon-exclusivity is so great in some ways and so limiting in others; I’m glad I made the switch.   

Lieutenant Aroska Tarbic is an agent with the revered Haphezian Special Police. He’s lost a lot in a short period of time; the other members of his squad were killed in a tragic accident, and his younger brother was wrongfully convicted and executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Just when Aroska thinks he’s starting to piece his life back together, he’s assigned to a joint task force with a special operations team. It seems like a unique opportunity, at least until he learns his new commander is none other than Ziva Payvan, HSP’s finest operative…and the assassin who killed his brother.

Marketing

How do you define success as an author?

Author: Personally, every single sale is a small win for me. I started this little venture just wanting to share my work with others, so each sale represents a new person to share it with. It’s an even bigger win if those people enjoy the story and leave a nice review, or even better, when they reach out via email. No joke, I’ve had a few people send me a simple, quick email over the years just letting me know they enjoyed one of my books, and without fail, it makes me cry (never underestimate how much it means to an author to hear directly from a reader!). This happened most recently after I published Embers, which was already a very emotional project for me, so the simple message meant even more. I think I’d rather have 50 close-knit, enthusiastic, engaged readers who love my characters and stories than 50,000 random strangers who read the books, aren’t impacted in any way, and just move on with their lives. Of course not every writer is going to define success the same way, but that’s my definition.

And then I know I’ve really made it when people create artwork of my characters unprompted, or when people tell me my MC has showed up in their dreams (welcome to my life), or when people leave 5-star reviews saying they were traumatized by one of my book endings and will need to seek professional help 😉

About Your Work

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author: I write sci-fi with a lighter, more space opera/space fantasy feel. Not only is that what I’m more comfortable writing, but it has ended up making my books more accessible to people who don’t always read sci-fi—you don’t have to be a hardcore science fiction nerd to understand and enjoy them. I also like to incorporate thriller elements into my sci-fi settings. The main characters in my series are members of a superhuman race who form a special operations team for the primary law enforcement agency on their homeworld, so it ends up being kind of a cross between spy thriller and military thriller. You’ve got your space travel, futuristic weapons, and advanced technology, but also assassins, espionage, conspiracies, and so much more. It has been a really fun combination of genres to work with. One of the future stories I have planned takes place in the same universe as my main series but will have a little bit more of a post-apocalyptic flair.      

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author: When I first started out, I almost exclusively let my books define my brand, which I eventually learned was a mistake because series grow and change over time. It wasn’t long before my banners, logos, business cards, etc. were outdated, and I also didn’t want to be limited to just one story/series. A couple of years ago, I began using a new, more generic logo that consists of simple shapes and colors but still has a very “spacey” look. Space-related backgrounds set the atmosphere without detracting from whatever is in the foreground. I use a lot of reds in my designs, partially because red is my favorite color, and partially because it’s very befitting of my series namesake character. When paired with my logo, my tagline—“Imagination At Work”—elicits the idea of an expansive, exciting universe, but that phrase itself doesn’t limit me to any particular sub-genre. I use the same font for all my logos, book titles, chapter headings, etc.—it’s strong and crisp and has an adequate futuristic look while still being clear and readable. The idea was to create consistency across my whole platform—everything from the books themselves to my website and social media—while avoiding constraints that would warrant another re-brand a couple of years down the road.

How many works have you published?

Author: I’ve published 5 primary works. My Ziva Payvan series consists of a main trilogy (Dakiti, Nexus, and Ronan) as well as a duology (Fracture and Embers). While technically books #4 and #5 of the overall series, Fracture and Embers are kind of a collective sequel to the trilogy and can serve as a jumping-in point for new readers. The journey the characters go on throughout the series was so much fun to engineer. All 5 books are available in ebook and paperback formats, and excerpts from each are available to read on my website.

I’ve also published an ebook-exclusive omnibus that includes the first 3 books as well as some character interviews and sneak peeks. Dakiti is also featured in Forged from the Stars, a collection that also includes first-in-series sci-fi novels by authors G.S. Jennsen and Tammy Salyer.       

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author: Embers was released this past February and is the final book in the current story arc (the plan is for all my future work to take place in this same galaxy, but everything will either be brand new material with the same characters, or a completely different spin-off). It’s very much a culmination of everything that has happened since the start of the series and has a huge emotional payout for the characters (and readers too, I hope!). Ziva, my main (anti)heroine, goes on such a journey over the course of the story, and it felt so good to bring that journey to a realistic and satisfying conclusion. In the book, she and my other characters find themselves caught up in what is essentially an interstellar gang war, all while hashing out the issues that have plagued them for the last couple of books and dealing with their own personal demons    

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author: I of course try to make each of my books unique in their own way, so the characters aren’t always facing the exact same problems, the antagonists don’t always have the same motivations, etc. But in general, my work always includes very strong—and often somewhat complicated—character relationships, regardless of the nature of those relationships. Trust is a major recurring theme throughout the series.

In terms of the writing itself, I’m not ashamed to admit I use a lot of sentence fragments for stylistic purposes—emphasis, dramatic effect, replicating the way people talk, etc. As you may have noticed throughout this interview, I’m also a huge fan of em dashes 😉

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author: When I first started, my one and only goal was to simply share my work with others and quit keeping it hidden. On the whole, that’s still my primary goal; if a few people out there enjoy my stories and fall in love with the characters, that’s a win for me. I think every author—especially us indies—wishes they could make more sales and reach more readers, and I’m no different in that regard. But if I ever find myself getting frustrated with lack of sales and lack of reach, I just remind myself why I started doing this in the first place. A few extra bucks in my pocket is nice, but that wasn’t the initial goal. And like I mentioned earlier, I can keep writing and creating regardless of how many sales I have.    

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author: Sci-fi and thrillers are the two genres I’ve primarily read over the years, and in many cases (especially on the sci-fi side) that has been really helpful for me when it comes to creating my own stories. I tend to not enjoy reading really heavy, hard science fiction as much, but I also don’t care for it if it’s overly simplified. That has helped me kind of find a balance between the science and the fiction in my own work—I can write the level of sci-fi that I’m comfortable with and that I enjoy reading. Plus, since sci-fi is such an age-old genre, I have a lot of material to draw from in terms of what classic tropes I might want to include, or which clichéd ones I might want to avoid.

On the thriller side, reading that genre has helped more with overall story structure—the way problems are introduced, how a conspiracy unravels, etc. It’s a good way to study pacing.  

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author: I am 100% a plotter. I’ve given pantsing my best shot and failed miserably. Whenever I have new ideas brewing, I always start by just jotting down some rudimentary bullet points. Just recently, I experimented a little with writing things out in a more prose-like manner (“So there’s this planet…”) as if I were explaining the ideas to myself. I ask myself questions and branch off if I’m not sure which direction I want the story to go. Eventually I’ll end up with basic bullet points for the entire story, at which point I’ll start breaking them up roughly by chapter get a little more in-depth with my outline. I often continue building on the outline even after I’ve begun drafting, especially if I have notes for continuity-related details I don’t want to forget.

This will sound terrible, but I actually have no idea how long all of this takes. The outlining for my early books took place back when I wasn’t keeping track of time at all (I can’t remember if I even used an outline for the first book), and my last 2 books have been written in the midst of my day job, so everything moves at a snail’s pace. It never fails that the outline comes together fairly quickly, especially if I can gain some momentum, and then it takes me forever to actually write the story.      

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author: I’m definitely most active on Twitter. I do a little networking on Instagram, and a little less on Facebook, but Twitter is where the majority of the meaningful interaction takes place.    

Struggles

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author: I can’t speak for the querying/trad-pub process, but if you’re opting to go indie, and especially if you’re wanting to self-publish, my biggest piece of advice is to take your time. Do your research. Build your platform. Make sure your work is the absolute best it can be. If you want/need to hire an editor and/or cover designer and/or formatter, ask around in the community to find people who are a good fit for you. If you’re going to be doing your cover and formatting yourself, study other well-performing books in your genre and see what makes them shine (fonts, color schemes, etc.). If you make friends and build hype in the writing community well before your book is out, chances are you’ll have pretty good readership right off the bat when you launch. Some of those new friends may even serve as beta readers who can offer feedback and help you polish your story.

I say all of this as someone who got way too excited upon finally deciding to publish and rushed things. Frankly, my first book was not the best it could be when I published it (luckily it’s easy to correct typos and upload a fresh document to Amazon). I had no platform whatsoever other than the few people I knew in real life who’d found out I was about to publish. In the intervening years, I’ve redone all my covers and formatting, and I can’t help but wonder how much better all of my books would’ve performed if I’d done those things from the start.

So in short, I know it’s exciting, and it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and the hype. But step back, take a breath, and have patience—take the time necessary to create the most professional product you can, and you’ll be so much better off. Start strong.  

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author: I’m definitely somewhere between “gun-shy promoter” and “total marketing procrastinator.” I LOVE creating spiffy promotional graphics for my work and sharing them, but I hate feeling like I’m being obnoxious. If I’m running a sale, I tend to post a fun graphic with all the relevant info and links, pin it to the top of my social media, and then sit back and simply hope people see it. I’ve always hated saying, “Hey, buy my books!” (no matter how nice I try to make it sound LOL) even if that’s exactly what I want to happen.   

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author: I usually don’t listen to anything while I write—I don’t mind some ambient noise, but any type of music tends to be too distracting. Music usually comes later during the revision/proofreading process. I love instrumental music like movie scores, Two Steps From Hell, and Audiomachine, but at this point I’ve listened to all of that stuff so often that my brain forms associations with too much of the music and it’s just as distracting as lyrics would be. I do really like Ambience Lab on YouTube—there are a bunch of genre-specific ambience videos so it’s really fun to find some sci-fi related ones and get totally immersed in my work.    

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author: I’ve known for a long time that I’m the World’s Biggest Introvert™, and I was just musing the other day about how that means I want recognition for my work and accomplishments but still hate being in the spotlight at all. I imagine I’m not alone in this—it seems like the vast majority of writers tend to have introverted personalities. This whole publishing adventure has forced me to maintain a certain level of self-awareness; in order to see any success, I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone to varying degrees over the years. It can be challenging, and sometimes it’s not very fun, but I think it’s been good for me nonetheless.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author: I tend to like hard candy that I can suck on absentmindedly while mulling things over—Jolly Ranchers or Gobstoppers are a solid choice on that front (pro tip: don’t eat an entire can of Ice Breakers mints in one sitting or your mouth will be raw for days). If it’s the weekend, you can bet I’ll have an ice-cold Dr. Pepper within reach—otherwise, it’s usually flavored water or Gatorade. In the colder weather, no writing session is complete without a mug of hot chocolate with a melted candy cane in it!    

You can find me on all the major social media platforms—I’m most active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hit me up! I always love chatting with readers and other writers, even if it’s about non-writing-related mutual interests like video games and movies.

Visit my website—www.ejfisch.com—to find everything you need to know about my work. Read excerpts from each book, find retailer links, check out concept art, and more.

Facebook     Twitter     Instagram     Pinterest     Goodreads   

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Sonja Hutchinson, Fantasy/ Science Fiction/ Mystery/ Paranormal/ LitRPG

I’m Sonja Hutchinson. I’ve written seventeen books in the genres of fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, mystery, paranormal suspense, and LitRPG, but currently, only three of the Bond-Wolf Series (epic fantasy) are available on Amazon. I’m working on book four of that series, and it should be available at the end of summer 2022. I once tried to write a romance, but after copious amounts of chocolate and coffee, the urge to finish that piece blew away.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:    I began writing in 2000 after my first son was born. I had an idea for a story and ran with it while he slept. Then two more boys came along, and I had to take a break from writing to keep them all alive. That was my full-time endeavor. When they were big enough to be moderately unsupervised, I returned to writing.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      It took ages LOL. I finished the first draft in nine months, then began editing. I hired a professional to help me with that process and ended up re-writing the entire book.  I moved on to other projects, but between them I went back and re-wrote that first book several more times. The final version is now published as  Voice of the Just.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie author through Amazon.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I have a team of three amazing critique partners. When I reach chapter ten, I send them all chapter one. They push me to stay ahead of them and help with things like pacing, typos, character motivations, and general cheerleading functions. Once the book is finished, polished, and ready for publication, I have another team of betas who give me general feedback (did they like it, is the ending satisfying, is it truly ready for publication, etc.).

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      Marketing is the area I struggle with the most. It’s one thing to identify my target audience and another to reach them (plus the whole idea of “I made something, please buy it!” grates against something within me). But it’s a necessary evil if I want people to enjoy my books, so I’ve given it a minimal shot. I use the basic Amazon tools (key words), Twitter, and Facebook to advertise, and I’ve had good success with Kindle Unlimited.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      My beta readers review my books. I’ve found a few book review sites but haven’t used them yet.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      My favorite genre to read and write is fantasy, but I enjoy too many others to stick with just one. I’ve got a paranormal suspense series I’ll be self-publishing soon, and I’m currently querying agents with a sci-fi piece and an urban fantasy to try the traditional publishing route.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      For the past year I’ve been working on mastering Deep POV, a method of limiting narrative voice to funnel readers directly into a character’s heart and mind. I’m still working on the technique, but I love the outcome so far. I should devote more time to marketing, but I don’t want to LOL.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      I love creating new characters, plotting their adventures, and writing that first rough draft. I also love brainstorming sessions with my writer friends, either on my work or theirs. Sometimes a ten-minute collaboration with a friend can stir the creativity to new heights and fuel a marathon writing session, and nothing beats that rush.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      I’m a voracious reader in multiple genres, but fantasy and mystery are my favorites. Goodreads informs me when my go-to authors have a new book out, and I’ve usually got 12-15 books in my to-be-read pile–usually e-books, but sometimes I bring home real library books. As far as creating new stories, I’ve never had a problem coming up with ideas. I’ve got a notebook for jotting down promising bits of dialogue or what-if questions that could someday resemble a plot, and my series characters could continue having adventures as long as I keep writing.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a plotter, but I don’t have the same method for each book. Some begin with the idea of a character in crisis, and the plot springs from that. Once I came up with a fantastic first line and plotted an entire book around that sentence. Most of my books begin with an ending (like a murder mystery), and I plot around that climax, creating all the characters needed to make it happen. One time, I tried pantsing. It was a disaster LOL. I ended up stopping before the end of Act I and planning the rest of the structure before continuing—and quite a bit of the beginning was trashed.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      Twitter and Facebook are my go-to for networking now, but before the pandemic, I also attended a writer’s conference once a year. I found my first critique partner at one. I’ve also met several of my favorite authors in person at conferences and connected with a man who later became a good friend and co-wrote a book with me. I’m hoping that book (a LitRPG) will be self-published this year. He’s much better at marketing than I am, so fingers crossed!

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      I usually write six days a week, sometimes seven, for 4-6 hours per day. Sundays I only get in 1 or 2 hours before church. Occasionally I need a break and take a day or two off, but I’ve got a weekly word count goal that I don’t like to miss.

I’ll admit, I’ve been known to procrastinate J  It happens to us all. Sometimes I get bogged down and don’t know how I’m going to get to the next plot point, and that’s when I brainstorm with an author friend. Video conferencing is a fabulous tool! And sometimes, I worry that my story is boring, and readers won’t like it, and the only way out of that vortex of depression is to call my best author friend and let her talk me out of it.

Struggles

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      I actively queried eight books over a span of 16 years and have over 450 rejections, some of them on paper from back in the days before e-queries. Who else remembers SASEs? LOL. Every one of those rejections hurt like an icepick to the chest. I’d allow myself a few minutes to grieve, have a chocolate, then spend some time playing with my children before moving on to the next project, book, or agent. All these years later, the rejections don’t sting quite so much as they used to, and the kids are grown so there’s no need for play breaks unless I want them J

This process can be So Depressing! It’s long and difficult with incredibly low odds of nailing a traditional publishing house contract. But I’m too stubborn to ever give up, and I couldn’t quit writing if I tried, so I keep pressing forward. I still query sometimes, even though I’ve decided to self-publish most of my works. 

Tips for budding writers: Don’t give up! You can’t do anything with a half-finished product, so finish the book. Then find critique partners or a professional editor to help with the edits. Study craft books to improve your techniques. Reach out to other authors for assistance–you’ll never find a helper if you don’t advertise your need for one. Get involved in writing communities on social media to make connections. Lastly, READ. A lot. Mostly in your genre, but also in others. Read new stuff that comes out so you can follow the market, and study how that author moved you with the prose.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I have a couple of methods. The first is to back up in the story, maybe just a few pages, or maybe a few chapters, and do something different with the characters. Make different choices for their forward progress—or even opposite choices. Do something unexpected, or dangerous, or ridiculously silly. It might not work, but then again, it might spur a fabulous idea.

My second method is to reach out to my author friend and ask for a brainstorming session. She’s fabulous at coming up with things I’d have never dreamed of. *Spoiler alert, don’t read this next bit if you want to read my books* Once I told her, “I don’t know what happens next. Alex killed redacted”—and Writer Friend said, “Did he? Are you sure he’s dead?” That little comment spurred a sub-plot that now stretches across multiple books.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. I need silence. Though the washer and dryer are usually running, but they don’t count.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I have a basement office with a huge wrap-around desk for spreading out all my notes, reference books, charts, maps, tablets, and coffee. I’ve been making an effort to go paperless to get rid of these thousands of sticky notes, sheets of paper, and 3×5 cards, but I haven’t succeeded yet. I’ve tried writing in other places (like a coffee shop), but it doesn’t work. A crowded place is too noisy, and I don’t have all my notes and references.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I just finished Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. Up next on the to-be-read pile is The Match by Harlan Coben and Blue Moon (Jack Reacher #24) by Lee Child.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I have a best friend who’s an author. We chat every day, edit each other’s work, brainstorm problems, and push each other to stop procrastinating LOL. I have another friend I co-wrote a book with, and we’re trying to work on a sequel.

I have a website: sonjahutchinson.com.

I’m also active on Twitter @sonjahutchinson.

See Sonja’s books on Amazon

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Jonkohrr, Fantasy/ Science Fiction

Hi. I’m G Jonathan Hall (Jonkohrr) and I write in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. There are only two works I can talk about for the time being. First, there’s The Enigma of the V, which is an epic fantasy adventure that’s been published on Webnovel; and then there’s also It’s a Brave New World, a Sci-Fi thriller that’s still a work in progress. You can read it in its early stages at Wattpad or Inkitt.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      The official answer is March, 2020. I started because I needed something to do in order to maintain my sanity during the lockdowns (whether or not this was successful is debatable). But unofficially, I started writing fan-fiction comics ever since I was a kid. I even made a 16-issue series of Dragon Ball Z, creating both the art and writing the story. The thing is that I’ve always had a creative side. The Enigma of the V has been the greatest expression of that so far.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      I finished the main story for The Enigma of the V in two years. There is a secret ending still in the works, but the official ending was completed at the end of April 2022.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      The Enigma of the V was published with Webnovel under an exclusive contract. Due to the way the site/app works, it is a “web novel”, meaning that new chapters were made available to the public as frequently as I was able to write them.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      So far I have published The Enigma of the V, my fantasy novel on Webnovel. I’m in the process of publishing It’s a Brave New World on Wattpad and Inkitt.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits? Author:      Occasionally, very few kind people would leave critiques and feedback for me on the Webnovel review section. The editing I’ve done it all myself, and with each re-read I find other things that need to be corrected. I’m hoping to receive a lot more feedback in the near future.

What would you do if a pigeon told you that you had to save the world?
Read More on WebNovel

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      The main platform I’m active on is Twitter (@jonkohrr). This is where I make announcements about the progress of my works and try to spread the word about what I’m working on. I also have a Facebook page (The Enigma of the V) and an Instagram (@jonkohrr1983), but I’m definitely more active on Twitter since I get the most engagement from there.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Mainly Twitter. I made a blog to share some additional information about The Enigma of the V primarily, but still haven’t seen any engagement there. I’ll try to revive the blog, though… especially now that I have a new work in progress that is so different from the previous one. I even have a Patreon and a Ko-fi account that I made for whenever the fans arrive. On those two platforms I mainly have some artwork that I created for the main characters of The Enigma of the V.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      For me, success would be to have my stories known. Writing the storylines, characters and worlds of The Enigma of the V particularly has been an endeavor that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I want other people to be fond of that world and those characters. If I’m able to achieve this, then I will have succeeded. And of course, I wouldn’t mind having my story receive an anime adaptation. A guy can dream…

About Your Work

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      I’ve always wanted my first story (The Enigma of the V) to be made into an anime series. That has not changed… It remains my dream to this day. I say anime, but what I really mean is that I want it to be an animated series. It doesn’t necessarily have to be made by a Japanese studio (although I would definitely love that!).

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:      As I mentioned before, I have a blog (https://gpanbrasil.wixsite.com/website). I also have a Youtube channel where I mostly repost promo shorts from my Tiktok (Jonkohrr).

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      A safe place to ponder and meditate. Hopefully also incite excitement over the worlds and characters I’ve created.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      My favorite thing about writing so far has been enjoying the power conferred unto me by creation. To create an entire universe with its own set of rules, liveliness and characters with their own hopes and dreams… what is that if not the power of God?

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      For The Enigma of the V I first decided that I would divide the story in five parts/volumes. Then I created an outline for the chapters I envisioned to have in each part, both naming them and writing a short summary of where the story was supposed to go in that chapter. Many times this ended up changing by the time I arrived at the chapter to actually write it, but it provided me with a guide so I would always know where the story was going. Depending on how the creative juices were flowing, it would take me either a few hours or a few days to complete an outline for one part/volume; and well, the entire thing took me two years to complete (not considering the super-secret part VI that’s actually still in the works… the true ending to the story).

With my new work in progress (It’s a Brave New World) I’ve gone full-fledged pantser. I’m discovering the story as I go. It’s actually pretty exciting!

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      I have a presence on all these sites, but I’m most active on Twitter. The reason for that is that I’ve found a mostly welcoming writing community there. Even though it’s not a lot, I do get some engagement there, so it makes posting things somewhat worthwhile.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      Seeing as though I don’t really have much to compare with, I would guess that I’m a slow writer. I’ve had a lot of time available for writing; otherwise I wouldn’t even have finished the main story for The Enigma of the V.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      I’ve had to deal with some personal issues, among which figures my overall health. There was a point at which I was unable to focus on writing because of it.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      The change I would make is publishing with Webnovel. It really didn’t turn out the way I expected, and it greatly limited what I’m able to do with my story. It was a hasty and generally uninformed decision that I made which I’m sad to say that I now regret.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      My motivation comes from my stories and characters themselves. They are the ones that keep me going. When I’m writing, I see everything play out. I’m there in that universe both as creator and spectator. Their goals are also my goals. I just have to see the story to the end.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      I was hoping for them to read my first story The Enigma of the V. I don’t think they did… though I’ve received their support in other ways.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      There was a time when I used to play an MMORPG called Perfect World. I had made a playlist for when I would play back then. That playlist was full of OST’s from video games and series that I liked. I keep adding to it to this day, so it’s grown to be pretty massive. I don’t always listen to this playlist, but when I do, it ends up adding one more layer of concentration and immersion in the story that I’m writing at the moment.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      I’ve learned that there’s a piece of me in all of the character’s I’ve created. Writing has helped me process some of the deepest darkest issues that have haunted my soul.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      I don’t eat or drink anything while writing. At least I’ve never done it yet.

How can readers follow you and learn more about your books?

Author:      Ok. First of all, follow my Twitter (@jonkohrr). Secondly, my blog which I promise to show some love to again. Hopefully, there will be others that do so as well (https://gpanbrasil.wixsite.com/website). I’m also on Patreon and Ko-fi as jonkohrr, and on Instagram as @jonkohrr1983.

My first novel, which is in the fantasy genre and is called The Enigma of the V, can be found here:

WebNovel: The Enigma of the V

Twitter: @jonkohrr
Instagram: @jonkohrr1983
Blog: https://gpanbrasil.wixsite.com/website
Wattpad/Inkitt: Jonkohrr
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jonkohrr

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Cendrine Marrouat, Multi-genre/ Co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and PoArtMo

Hello everyone! My name is Cendrine Marrouat. I am a poet, photographer, blogger, short story writer, and multi-genre author (poetry, photography, theatre…). I am also the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and PoArtMo, as well as the (co-)creator of several poetry forms and a type of flash fiction.

My most recent works include In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories and Flashku and Tree Reflections, a collection of photographs.    

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:    I started my career in 2005. I just felt compelled to write. Even today, after so many years, I still cannot explain why…   

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:   Indie all the way.

I started my career as a poet. When I decided to release my first collections, I knew that it would be very difficult to find an agent or traditional publisher, because poetry books rarely sell well. So, I did a lot of research on self-publishing and then went all in. My first three books were released in 2006. I have never looked back since.

I enjoy self-publishing because I love the freedom attached to it. I know how to format manuscripts, design book covers, create promotional videos and press kits, write press releases and blurbs, etc. As a former social media coach, I also know how to create and implement a strategy.

It also helps that I am a photographer. I always have images that fit my projects, covers, and videos.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:    I have used several platforms over the years: Lulu, Smashwords, Amazon, Blurb (photography books), and Draft2Digital.

D2D is the best of them all, and not just because it is free. The website is user-friendly and offers wide distribution for books and ebooks. You can see what I mean here: https://creativeramblings.com/books/

Marketing

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author: It really depends on the book. I create a specific strategy for each launch.   

How do you promote your content?

Author:  In many ways. For example, I blog, do interviews, and use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

I also spend a lot of time reading others, leaving comments on their blogs, and engaging with people on social media. This often leads to fascinating conversations.

To me, the human approach is the most effective form of self-promotion in the world. I have sold more books by being genuine, supportive, and respectful of others than by trying the marketing gimmicks recommended by self-proclaimed gurus.

About Your Work

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:  I consider myself a minimalist. I create like a Haikuist (haiku poet). That is why I choose the following slogan for my brand: “Visual Poetry of the Mundane.”

As a photographer, I mostly document the simplicity and beauty of nature. My written work speaks to the importance of embracing challenges, growth, and positivity. 

It is just the way I live my life. 🙂

How many works have you published?

Author:    If I include the anthologies I have co-edited, I have released 40 books since 2006.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:  Tree Reflections features 50+ digital and film images that I took in several parks and urban forests in Winnipeg, Canada, during early spring 2022.

In my province, we had a very long and wet winter. The snow-melting period also came with quite a bit of rain. So, as you can imagine, rivers flooded. Trees in parks and forests were immersed in water, which created stunning reflections. That is what I documented in the book.  

Here is an example.

For more information on Tree Reflections, visit https://creativeramblings.com/tree-reflections/

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:   I have a podcast, called The Haiku Shack. I share thoughts on life and art, as well as some of my poetry. Each episode is under 5 minutes long. Right now, it is on hold because I have been busy with several projects, but I plan on releasing new episodes very soon!    Link: https://anchor.fm/cendrine-marrouat

On YouTube, I upload short poetry and photography videos a few times a month. Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/cendrinemarrouat

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:  That life is too short to waste it wallowing in negativity or constantly seeing your glass half empty. That difficult experiences are there to teach us important lessons. And that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:  I love Twitter! It’s a fascinating platform, where you can meet very interesting people. I also enjoy engaging with people on Medium these days. The community there is nice and supportive.

Link: https://cendrineartist.medium.com/

Struggles

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:   Just do it! That’s simple! Don’t cut corners, do your research. Have a strategy in place. If you do not have a lot of money, learn to barter!

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:   Nothing.

I built my platform without any help. It has been a LOT of work, but every mistake has been a blessing. I would not be the artist I am today without the learning curve I had to experience. That is the reason why I celebrate every little victory.   

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:  Very early in my career, I realized that nothing comes out of waiting for things to happen. I had to create my own opportunities and open my own doors.

Even though I am an introvert, I have a healthy level of self-confidence. I know my worth as an artist. So I have never been shy about promoting myself. But I don’t spam people. I engage with them.

Promotion is fun when you know the ropes and aren’t scared of testing new ideas. I’m constantly in marketing mode.

Fun Stuff

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:  David Ellis, a fantastic UK-based poet and author. Together, we have co-authored several books, and co-founded Auroras & Blossoms, a platform that celebrates upliftment and inspiration in the arts.

A&B gives a voice to young and adult artists from around the world via its flagship publication, the annual PoArtMo Anthology. (Link: https://abpositiveart.com/store/) Our mission is to inspire creativity in people ages 13 and over. That is the reason why we write guides for authors and artists and run a series of prompts and challenges on Medium. Finally, we also invent poetry forms.

Link: https://abpositiveart.com

We are currently looking for stories and visual art for the third volume of our anthology. Feel free to check us out (https://abpositiveart.com/submit/), we pay royalties to selected contributors. 

My website: https://creativeramblings.com

Books: https://creativeramblings.com/books

All my books are available from major online stores. However, I encourage you to shop locally and ask your neighborhood library to carry my books. I explain how here: https://creativeramblings.com/books.

I am very active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/haiku_shack. I am also on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, but I am not a big fan of those social networks. I use the same username: @haikushack.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Allen Madding, Southern Fiction

Hi, I’m Allen Madding. I write southern fiction. My most recent project is Summer of ’82: Coming of Age in the Forgotten South.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I wrote my first short story in 1982 (my senior year in high school) called “The Bug” after reading The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I had a creative itch and enjoyed story telling so it seemed like a logical extension. I wrote a few manuscripts that I wasn’t happy with and didn’t publish anything until the release of Shaken Awake in 2014.

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Amazingly enough I wrote the first book of the Shaken Awake trilogy in under 3 months. I’ve not completed anything that fast since.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m indie. Strictly because I’m too chicken to deal with all of the rejections involved in submitting query letters.


In her work as a loan processor at Sunshine City Bank in Saint Petersburg, Colleen Smithwick has always found it hard to cope with the increasing pressures of work–suffering myopic and tyrannical loan officers while grinding through unreasonable deadlines. She plays the part of a committed wife well, but a restlessness weighs heavy on her mind. When murders of two high-officials rock the bank, Colleen becomes enamored with the lead detective investigating the case.

It’s Detective Gary Black’s job to see the risk in every situation, but he is unaware of the danger surrounding his own life. Since the time he first met Colleen, he has felt a strange attraction for her, the attraction that leads him into a world of dark secrets, throwing him into the path of a psychopathic killer. He must do whatever it takes to solve the case. That is, if he can stay ahead in the game.

Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this devilishly gripping thriller, nothing is what it seems on the surface.


If a homeless man froze to death on the steps of a church, what would it change?”

Shaken Awake – The Complete Trilogy is three books in one (Shaken Awake, Awakened, and Woke!)

“A dreadful chill ravages the city and a homeless man is found frozen to death on the church steps…

The city of Atlanta had weathered a thousand wet and chilly days in winter with occasional snowfall… but never one like this. A snowfall that begins in the noon turns into a vicious ice storm by evening, obliterating everything in its way. People are stuck into the whiteout, and trying to look for a way out.

Now, as the Peachtree Church opens its door to those out in cold, the church members come face to face with a stark reality.


About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      My main content is fiction. I grew up in a family of storytellers and enjoy the freedom that fiction provides.

How many works have you published?

Author:      6 – the Shaken Awake Trilogy, Volunteer Management 101, Lendercide, and Summer of ’82


A coming-of-age YA story that is as hauntingly authentic as it is deeply thought-provoking.

The summer of 1982 in Whitiker County in Southwest Georgia was another hot and dry season. The best friends, Ricky, Jimmy, and Buck, are ready to graduate from high school and step into adulthood. But when the lovely Jenny catches both Jimmy and Buck’s eye, Ricky has a bad feeling about the whole thing. Soon, Ricky’s fears come true. Madding’s storytelling is entertaining, and readers will laugh out loud at the boys’ adventures and sympathize with their heartbreaks and failures. As enjoyable as all the characters may be, the standout character of the book is Ricky, whose grounded, sensible nature will have readers rooting for him throughout. While the storyline is intriguing, what sets this novel apart is how beautifully Madding explores the boys’ vulnerabilities, hopes, and passions while delving into themes of love, young adult drama, friendship, mistakes, and regrets. Setting his tale against the quaint backdrop of the forgotten South of the 1980s, Madding skillfully weaves together multiple story strands to create a poignant coming-of-age tale. This is a page-turner. – The Prairies Book Review


An employee needs the paycheck to pay the rent, the mortgage, the car payment, student debt, the credit card bill, the utilities, and a host of other bills.

Volunteers, on the other hand are not motivated by a paycheck to stick it out when the manager is chewing someone out or things get uncomfortable.

The volunteer is simply motivated by making a difference and being a part of the organization. Their commitment hinges on how vested they are with the vision and purpose of the organization. When it gets to be too much of a hassle to serve, when they begin to feel unappreciated, when they feel the commitment is too demanding, they will walk away – usually without any warning or explanation.

With several decades of experience between them, Madding and King share insights on how to manage these valuable resources in your organization.


Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      MARKETING! Ugh. I have tried Amazon ads, Google Ads, GoodReads giveaways. I’ve read marketing books, and it still seems like I’m floundering. The only real success I can claim in marketing is author signings (which are few and far between).

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I would have stuck to it through the 80s and 90s. I often wonder where I would be in the whole process if I had not shied away from if for 30 years. Perhaps it would have been easier if we had platforms like KDP to publish in the 90s. But, I think if I had adopted a writing regiment after releasing the Bug, I would have been able to really hone my writing skills over the 30 year gap.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I read a quote from Hemmingway that I have used to avoid writer’s block:
“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day…” — Ernest Hemingway

Fun Stuff

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:     Drinks: Coffee, Old Fashions, or Crown and Coke Zero. I’ve about swore off all snacks as they all seem to be carb loaded and I’m trying to slim down.  I guess my latest snacks are nuts and beef jerky.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:      WRITE! And then write some more. Don’t throw away or delete your writings. Keep them all and go back and consider revising them once you feel your writing has improved. Don’t quit!

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Roger Stark, Historical Romance/ Biography/ Creative Non-fiction

Roger Stark

Historical Romance, WW2, Biography, Creative Non-fiction, 

Author of: They Called Him Marvin  

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:  Several years ago while working as an Addiction Counselor I wrote two how-to books on recovery. I ended up self publishing them and have had a modest amount of success with the first, “The Waterfall Concept”  has some success. That process gave me a functioning knowledge of the process but I really had no plans or desires to write another book, on any subject.

And then I became friends with Marv Sherman.

Marv and Judy (Marv’s wife) had invited my wife, Sue and I to dinner, it was a sort of thank you dinner for some assistance I gave them when they went on a temporary work assignment (Marv is a veterinarian) to Alaska. Marv and I engaged in a rather emotional conversation about his father that he had never met. His father, Dean, was a B29 Airplane Commander during WW2, shot down over Nagoya Japan, captured and ……..(you will have to read the story to learn the rest.)

Marv’s knowledge of his father was staggeringly incomplete and he openly wept as he told me the story. He had avoided learning about what had happened to his father to avoid the pain the knowledge would bring to him. I felt a compassion for my friend overcame me and I committed to helping him learn of his Dad. That turned into a request to write the story and It was on.  

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:  It took 8 years to write and publish TCHM. Much of that time was divided between research and re-writes. I knew little of the war and was shocked to learn the fates of B29 airman shot down over Japan, to say nothing of my shock at learning how the B29 were used against the Japanese people. During the Viet Nam War I was aware of vigorous condemnations of the use of napalm against the Viet Namese people. Turns out there was a good reason, they newly experience the horrors of fire bombing. Especially the fire bombing of urban areas without military targets. 

Marv had his parent’s letters from the war. Connie had kept everyone of Dean’s letters she received. The only letters from Connie he had were returned to her as undeliverable after he went MIA. Marv could not bring himself to even read the letters, he had attempted to transcribe them but that proved to be an emotional quagmire for him and he did not finish.  

What is your publishing process?

Author:  My process was certainly non-traditional. When I wrote “The Waterfall Concept” about 15 years ago I was a complete publishing novice. After finishing my manuscript I sent it to a few publishers for consideration, waiting for six months to hear back from them, I always got a similar reply, “Great manuscript, unfortunately, we are not interested.”

In my frustration, started to consider how to self publish. That is when I stumbled across Gorham Printing located just a few miles from me in Centraila, Wa. They specialize in helping self publishers, usually printing in small lots. I had to find my own editor and obtain an ISBN number, but they managed the formatting and printing process for me. I really cannot say enough good things about these people. They are incredible!

With several hundred copies of my book, I literally took off in the family car in search of a distributor. That trip did not go well. After lots of miles and lots of “No’s” I gave up and started for home. There was one more potential stop that I had written off because of all the other responses I had received. But a few miles north of Salt Lake City, I engaged in a rather lengthy sales conversation with the owner of Brigham Distributing. I could tell as the conversation wore on that the owner was weighing this opportunity in his mind, with it’s very low chance of much profitability. He startled me when he jumped up and said, “Sure we will distribute your book, do you have any copies with you?”

I could not unload the car fast enough, afraid he might change his mind. Brigham took care of creating the ebook, getting the Amazon listing, and getting bookstores know the book was available.

With all that in mind when I was finishing the “They Called Him Marvin” manuscript, I never considered anything but self publishing. I knew what hoops I had to jump through and it all seemed easier the third time through. 

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     The secret sauce for me were the writing groups at the Writer’s Attic in Portland Or. Great comrades as we each worked on our individual projects, reading and critiquing each other’s work, we all grew as writers. Many of the key elements of TCHM were developed in the those groups sitting around the tables giving feedback to each other

Normally I don’t respond well to criticisms of my writing (a serious pride issue on my part) but somehow in those groups, my defenses dropped and I could hear what others were saying. Perhaps that speaks to the trust we developed in each other, it was a rather remarkable experience, making these new friends and growing to love them. We could, after all, see right into their hearts by reading their writings.

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:   Reviews. They are quite the writers’s challenge when launching a work.  I thought I was being very aggressive about getting pre publication reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Being not very well connected in the writing world, I did not have a bevy of fellow writers to trade reviews with. I bought a few initially, used Netgalley, and some other like sources, gaining a few reviews but not in the quantity that I had hoped for. I turned to family (who cares that their last name is the same as mine) then friends, then in a desperation move, acquaintances, using a very loose definition of the word. A few friends talked their friends into helping out and by the publication date we had enough to launch.  

How do you promote your content?

Author: If you have any suggestions, I am all ears. This is where I made my biggest mistake in judgment.  I felt pretty good about marketing and promoting of my Addiction Recovery books . Well, what I learned back then, really didn’t apply to a book about a WW2 love story with a tragic ending. Suffice it to say I am still working on this part of my project. 

I did make a rather expensive mistake on Amazon advertising. In my inexperience I made a several thousand dollar blunder that netted me nothing, I still swear a little bit when I think about it.

I do like Book Tours obviously and feel they are well worth the money. Reduced price promotions of the ebook have raised awareness also. We have a constant Facebook presence and ad campaigns, Amazon ads are on the back burner for now. They have a place in my marketing plan, I am just not sure I know where that is yet. 

About Your Work

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      To remember and honor those that have given so much in our behalf. In TCHM Dean gave his all in service to his country, but it didn’t stop there, his wife and son went on giving the rest of their lives, deprived of a relationship with him. 

Marvin was a half orphan and struggled to figure out life. Some of his teenage exploits are both humorous and terrifying at the same time. He quit high school and in a moment of clarity realized that he needed some discipline that a place, like say the Army, might bring into his life. He was absolutely right about the Army and after his service he went onto college to become a licensed veterinarian. 

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:   My experience is that there are local writer’s groups all over this country and if there isn’t one in your area the internet can bring one to you. For me writing was the main thing that helped me improve my skills. I wrote for a recovery magazine for several years, my editor towards the end of that work made the comment, “Your writing skills have really improved.” That was news to me! I thought I was just writing like I always did, my own eyes could not see the improvements. That shows the importance of another pair of eyes looking at your work. You don’t need to believe everything you hear, as we say in recovery, “just take what you like and leave the rest.”

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:    I am a rewriter! I long ago lost count of the chapter ones for TCHM. My brain can just see a better way to phrase a passage when I look at a written presentation of it. Ann Lamott in an article on writing gave us all permission to write a shitty first draft. (Her word not mine) That advice has served me very well, when I stopped trying to write the perfect sentence the first time through, the quality and quantity of my writing increased dramatically.

After I was about one half way through my manuscript, Marv came to me with a family history Connie had penned that had been lost to the family. The facts she revealed did not agree with the creative non fiction account I had conjured up. Which meant I wasn’t half way through my manuscript at all.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:  SELF DOUBT. I will say no more on the subject.  

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:   There were three things I  listened to as I wrote. (I am listening to one of them now as I write this.) Disturbed’s version of “Sounds of Silence,” The theme to “The Last of the Mohicans” and Boston’s “Third Stage” album. All were on continuous tape and played at a very high volume.    

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:    I am not sure of the food or snack but I know such breaks involved Dr Pepper!  

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Angela D Shelton, Christian/Young Adult

I’m currently writing under my true name, Angela D. Shelton in the Christian Fiction, Young Adult genres. In March, I published Collapse: The Death of Friendship with Two Oaks Publishing, LLC. The second book in the series, Collapse: The Death of Honor should be out by June.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      My grandmother was a writer who used her craft to help pay my aunt’s way through college. Though she died before I was able to have conversations with her about her writing, I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps. In my freshman year of college, I took a creative writing class as an elective and the professor tried to convince me to change my major to writing. At that time, I figured there was no money in writing for most people, so stayed on my track to becoming an accountant. Two years ago I decided it was time to try my hand at creating stories for the page, and I’ve found that I absolutely love it.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first book took about six months to write. Unfortunately, it was a learning experience. The result was so awful that my own sister didn’t even finish reading it. Fortunately, I found the American Christian Writers Association and Word Weavers who provided mentoring opportunities through critique groups. There are some amazing writers out there and those I’ve worked the closest with have indicated my work is pretty good now, so I’m excited to share my work with others. Even my sister read my first published book and loved it. She’s waiting impatiently for the second book to be published. Even my sisters don’t get to see it until then.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I am an independently published author. As an accountant, I understand the financial side of the business and could see very little benefit to traditional publishing other than the vanity aspects of it. I see that it will take a bit more time for my work to be recognized as an indie, but I’m patient.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      My critique group pointed me in the right direction. Because my protagonist is a young adult, it makes sense for me to sell to that audience; however, a number of my critique partners have indicated that adults would enjoy my book just as much as the younger set.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Since I’m just starting out, I see success in every positive review that I obtain. Unfortunately, many more people tell me how much they enjoyed my book than those who take the time to write a review for me. I do encourage them to write, but folks are busy.

About Your Work

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      As a Christian, my goal is to share the joy I experience on a daily basis. So many people struggle in their lives, it’s hard to watch sometimes. If I can bring a positive message that helps even one person, it’s worth it. I don’t like heavy-handed preaching though. For the most part, Americans are aware of Christianity, and many have walked away from it for various reasons. Rarely do they walk away from it because of God. Usually, it’s over other Christians and how they’ve been treated. I get that. I’ve been there and “bought the t-shirt” as they say. But we were put on this earth to encourage each other and that’s my goal.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a combination of pantsing and plotting. Using the Save the Cat method, I put together my basic outline of the story. But once I’m writing, I often find myself writing my way out of my outline and have to go back and re-outline because I prefer the direction the new story is going.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. Seriously, it drives me nuts when someone is talking when I’m writing. I live out on a farm, which is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. So my favorite sounds are birds, chickens, cows, and sometimes my dogs who love to complain. Two huskies, Ricky and Lucy, usually sit nearby when I’m writing, and if I take too long without paying attention to them, they “talk” to me about it. If dogs could cuss, I’d swear they were at me some days.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      It all depends on the day and time. I like to sit at the kitchen island, in the early mornings at my desk, or if I’m on vacation, in the hotel room at the desk with the window open to the beach. Nature inspires me, so my favorite spots include the sounds of animals or the ocean. It’s almost always enhanced with a hot cup of chai latte though. That’s the one constant.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I can’t share the title yet, because I’m reading for a fellow author who hasn’t yet published it. It’s a really good read though, so watch my website for my review that will be out soon.

Author Interviews, Blog, Children's Book Blog

Author Interview: Lindsay Payne, Children’s/Fiction/Non-fiction

Lindsay Payne is the author of Children’s picture books and chapter books, non-fiction, and fiction which is her favorite to write.

Red Shoes & Wine is published, 99 Red Balloons is in the editing phase and will hopefully be available on Amazon end of February 2022, and she will commence writing The Red Butterfly in February 2022. Her most recent publication is Granny Clampet’s Cupcakes.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     I wrote my first book in 2006 – Bags of Trouble for Valeskia Maleskia – about a beautiful fish trapped in a plastic bag in the ocean. I realized there was a message and moral I wanted to write about and so began the journey of writing children’s books – each with a moral, intertwined between the pages.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      It took me three weeks to write Bags of Trouble

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Yes definitely.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie author, purely because it was very difficult to find a literary agent who was willing to give me a chance. I spent years trying to go the traditional route and it was only around five years ago, I found the indie route and it’s been a fabulous ride.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:    I’m still working on that! My children’s books generally sell through word of mouth and through mums scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. 

What is your publishing process?

Author:   I publish through KDP on Amazon.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I currently publish on Amazon only, but market on Facebook, Instagram and have just started the Tik Tok journey.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I ask close friends if they will read my first draft for me and provide honest, unbiased feedback. I met my editor through a Facebook group last year and he’s now become a good friend and my editor which I’m truly grateful for.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      I use Facebook mainly and have three pages I bounce between, my personal page, my children’s book page and my adult book page. I’m not as active on Instagram, as I am still learning the ropes and have just started using Tik Tok.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:   I don’t have a solid plan. What I currently do is publish on Amazon and then will write a blurb about that particular book with the cover image. Once the book is available on Amazon, I then post the links on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok.  

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     Once my second last edit is back, I will then post on FB that I’m looking for new beta readers. When sending the book to them, I ask that once they’ve finished reading it, would they be happy to write a review.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Usually a blurb on Facebook or Instagram. I’ve tried FB Ads, but I haven’t been too successful with that. I think it’s all to do with target market and I’m still working my way around research on how to be more precise.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      I think “soft marketing” is definitely the best approach. One also has to be very mindful of how to self-promote – something I truly battle with.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:  When an author is being mentioned among other authors, then you know that your name is getting out there. Not only are we our own worst critics, but our fellow authors can be too, so if you are being discussed among fellow colleagues for all the right reasons, then you generally should be “good to go!”   

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      Moral based children’s books – which have stemmed from my swimming coaching career since the age of twenty. More recently, I’ve dived into thriller-based novels and at this stage of my life, this is where I’m happiest writing.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:     Children’s picture and chapter books, non-fiction and fiction.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:   My children’s book illustrator, has found her own style with creating the images for all my children’s books and this branding seems to be working well. She has a very keen eye for detail and is very perceptive to the precise images I’m trying to portray.  I had been searching for an illustrator for quite a while, because I literally can’t draw to save my life, and within a few days Meg had produced the image for “When A Stranger Says Hello” a little book for children about stranger danger.


Sally has a wonderful life and special friends. Her best friend is Tessa who lives next door. They have been friends with each other since they first met at nursery school five years ago. Now they are in primary school in the third grade.

The besties love school and seeing each other every day. Both girls are very good readers and often come first and second in the class for their beautiful essays. Their stories are filled with adventure and excitement and Sally in particular, thrives on adventure.

The one thing Sally struggles with is swimming. She is not a very strong swimmer and feels embarrassed about this, until one day she has no choice but to swim.

Follow Sally on her lifesaving, life changing adventure.


How many works have you published?

Author:      I’ve written thirty-one children’s books, two non-fiction books and have just completed the second book in a trilogy series.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Granny Clampet’s Cupcakes was inspired by an aunt who lives in the UK. She’s a lady everyone loves and a grandmother to eight children. She’s led a very interesting, incredible life and is someone you can have a jolly good chat with. She can talk to anyone, no matter your background or age and so, with this in mind, the idea came to me one day where I thought about how we can’t be good at everything, but as long as we are a good person.

Granny Clampet lives in a cottage on the outskirts of a lovely village called Wiltshire. She has a wonderful life playing golf once a week, bridge twice a week, Scottish dancing every weekend and attending book club once a month.

She’s a terrible baker and this is all tested one day when she’s asked to bake something for the local Wiltshire Community Fundraiser. A whole lot of chaos arises in her kitchen, which creates a chain of remarkable events.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      I always try to introduce some sort of villain element into every book I write, taking every opportunity I can, to add in red-herrings and twists and turns, especially in my thriller books.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      I’ve always had a love of writing and seeing words formulate into a sentence and then into a paragraph and a page. My love for writing and the bug that bit, has not changed. I had no goal in mind five years ago when I first self-published, I just wanted to write and that has not changed.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:   I have a website, a Facebook page for my children’s books and adult books, an Instagram page and have just started on the Tik Tok journey.   As far as finding the support, I certainly have on all the services you mention, which have been the greatest help.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:    I aspire to move people when they read my books, to have some emotional attachment to all the stories and characters. 

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      Marketing is not my strong point, as I really struggle to self-promote, preferring the softer marketing version. So currently, I’m reading up on all sorts of techniques and tricks required to market.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:    I still get an absolute thrill with the start of any book. I love forming the characters, sprinkling them with idiosyncancies that will help connect the reader to the character. I thoroughly enjoy the research that goes into my thriller novels, because this process ignites the beginning of the storyline, plots and subplots and I still get a kick, every single time with the publishing process — as my manuscript is being uploaded, the sense of achievement is a buzz.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      I would highly recommend Mark Dawson’s – Ad’s for Authors and Joanne Penn – The Creative Penn – both on You Tube. There is an endless supply of information, tips from experienced authors.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      I read my first James Patterson book, Kiss the Girls, when I was twenty-two and then soon afterwards, discovered Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, while browsing in a book store one day. My thrillers are inspired by the writing style of these two authors.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      Yes, I’ve always written in the genre I read, which has definitely made it easier when creating stories. I love reading crime fiction, immersing myself in the story for days.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I stick to a good ole word doc. My budget was very limited when I started on the indie writing path and so I couldn’t afford any specialized app that could help with the process. I’ve become so used to a word document, that I still use it today.

Regarding writing children’s books, I fall back on life lessons that I’ve learnt along the way through various people I’ve met. A moral will form in my mind and then I begin to work out how I can tell the story through a child’s eyes and remain on their level. It usually takes me a week to create and finish a very rough first draft.

With the non-fiction books I’ve written, the first one took me three days to write and a month to proofread and edit. It was easy enough to do, because it was a personal story. The second non-fiction book I wrote, took about two months to complete.

My first thriller in the “Red” series, Red Shoes & Wine – The Sex Traffickers, took me exactly two months to write and two months to edit. I’ve just completed my second book in the “Red” series, 99 Red Balloons – The Organ Traffickers, took me just under three months to complete and is currently in the editing phase. My third book in the “Red” trilogy series, The Red Butterfly – The Drug Traffickers, is yet to be written. I hope to start writing this one in mid Feb 2022 and plan to take my time nurturing it and filling in all the scenarios of crime situations that I’ve been storing away for years.

I use a separate word doc for plotting, sub plot formation and chapters. It’s a fast-track technique that I use to keep referring back to interchanging characters as well as keeping an eye on specific details that need to be remembered and are crucial to the unfolding chain of events.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:     I’ve joined three major groups on Facebook, which has been paramount in learning as much as I can from fellow author’s and entrepreneurs. They are three very dynamic groups and all unique in what they offer. I’ve started to push myself out of my comfort zone and am networking in a more proactive way.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

  

Author:   Regarding my thriller novels, I’m a sprint-write, high on the writing drug maniac!! I sleep, eat, breathe my characters and the moment a new sub-plot is forming on the tail end of the one in front, I become manic. This demon writing possessed form that overcomes me, is probably not the most therapeutic enhancing but I thrive on the adrenalin!   

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:    Overcoming my deep fears of self-doubt regarding my writing. Once I jumped that hurdle, it’s made life a whole lot easier.   

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      I think I can speak on behalf of most authors when I say, that writing is deeply personal. It’s a very fine balance between not taking anything too personally if someone is giving sound advice and feedback and letting the hard knocks wash over you. Follow your heart and instincts when it comes to your words and storyline. No-one else will have a story like yours, so write with confidence and it will show in the end product. Try to always remain humble, for we never stop learning and growing. 

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Just take the leap of faith. I always advise that even writing that first word, will then lead into a sentence, into a paragraph and into a book, you just have to start somewhere.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I actually wouldn’t change one thing, because all the challenges have helped to shape my writing, ensuring I strive for a higher standard of quality and excellence.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I think initially I fell into the gun-shy promoter category, but am now slowly turning the corner into a driven and self-advocating author. I’ve had to push through that barrier of self-doubt and blaze forwards.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:    The storyline of all my books keeps me motivated. As I finish one story, I’m already thinking of the next one. My fingers are never far from the keyboard, so I’m very grateful that I can remain motivated.  I also try and swim at least four times a week which helps my mind to remain healthy and focused and a lot of plots come to me when I’m blowing bubbles.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:     This is one of the writing hurdles that so far, I’ve been very lucky not to battle with! There are too many thoughts racing through my mind at any one time. It’s a very busy place in there! LOL!

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      Up until September 2021, I had absolutely no idea what formatting really meant. I would just write away happily, completely clueless that I was creating all these unnecessary tabs and gaps in my document. I learnt the hard way and had to redo a two-hundred-page book which took me nearly a month to complete. It was tedious, pain staking work, so I’ve learnt so much from that mistake and I’m never doing that again!

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:    The reactions have been a mixed bag. Some very helpful hints and tips have come through from family and friends and some not so helpful hints and tips have come through from family and friends.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:     I think one assumption that is a myth is that authors wile away their days languishing in comfy chairs and writing when they feel like it, the rest of the time taking leisurely naps! Or taking trips to the coast or woodlands so that they can glean inspiration from these locations! There’s nothing further from the truth.  Most authors I know, are getting by on the sniff of an oil rag and so they need to rely on their imagination to whisk a reader off to an exotic place, all created from a single idea from their mind.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Usually the generator powering away in the background! LOL! Living in Zambia the power cuts we have at the moment are immense. If the power is on, I prefer a quiet space in which to write.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Because I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, I have a heap of phrases and sayings that are often in my conversations and I have to be so mindful of this when I’m writing a book in American English. Some of the words I use often are, “Eish” (Wow), “Hobos” (Heaps), “Brekky” (Breakfast), “Muti” (Medicine), “Chisa” (Hot), “Shamwari” (Friend), “Mampara” (Naughty), “Chingwa” (Bread), “Arvie” (Afternoon).

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I have the cutest, tiniest office with no windows. It’s my sanctuary and the place I feel safest and where all my writing and scrawling’s are created. The climate in Zambia can be scorching in summer and so, instead of finding another room in which to write, I just move the fan closer to me and continue writing away. I have such a connection to this space and feel emotionally at peace here.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:    The Store, by James Patterson.   

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      That’s a tough one. I think we all just need to be confident in our writing ability and that in itself will set you apart – my theory that no-one else will have the same story or book as you is important to remember, so that you don’t become overwhelmed by self-doubt.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:   I’m determined, focused and motivated when it comes to writing and I’ve learnt to dig deep and follow my instincts with certain techniques and writing styles.  

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coffee and anything crunchy – the crunchy snacks certainly seem to help with forming  sub-plots!

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:   I have two cats, Toby & Cosmo, and two dogs, Shilo and Nala. They all seem to take it in turns to sit with me, although my pointer Shilo, is always by my side when I write. She brings me such comfort and a relaxed aura.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:  Take one second at a time and then one minute. Don’t do tomorrow, before you’ve completed today and live in the moment!   

How can readers follow you and learn more about your books?

You can find me on Facebook @ Lindsay Payne Children’s Books & L. D. Payne Books, and my handle on Instagram and Tik Tok is @lindsaypaynebooks. My website is: https://www.lindsaypaynebooks.com

Look forward to connecting with you all!

You can also find Lindsay Payne on Amazon.